Counterterrorist Legislation and Subsequent Terrorism: Does It Work?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:35
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Eran SHOR, McGill University, Canada
Over the last four decades, and especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, many countries around the world have passed various types of counterterrorist legislation. It remains unclear, however, whether such laws are effective in achieving their most important declared goal: to reduce terrorist activities. Some scholars believe that counterterrorist legislation should indeed reduce terrorist activities through protecting people and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist plots, and deterring some potential terrorists. Others, however, are more skeptical, suggesting that such legislation may often serves merely as lip service or, worse, actually contribute to increasing terrorist activities. Using a newly assembled database on nation-level counterterrorist legislation, we conduct a cross-national time series analysis of legislation and subsequent terrorism for the years 1981-2009.  Our analyses show almost no significant relationships between national-level counterterrorist legislation and various measures of terrorism in the short run. Nonetheless, we find that comprehensive legislation might actually be associated with an increased level of terrorist acts when looking at the long-term impact.